“Elephants do not become big by reading” is a loosely translated version of a phrase that I often heard as a child. At the time, I didn’t understand why people read. But they didn’t just read. They showed emotions as they read. They cried, laughed out loud, yelled, gasped, etc. But as I grew up, my perspectives changed. I wasn’t asking myself “why do people read” anymore. I was asking “why do we read”. Now, my parents probably ask themselves “why is my daughter so obsessed with reading?” Whoever is near me when I read, they probably question my sanity because even though I am just reading, I am laughing, expressing my anger or even crying. This tends to happen a lot, mostly when reading fiction. One of the reasons why I like reading is because of the phases we go through. For example, we are introduced to the characters and their world. During this time, we may develop some feelings for them. We sometimes express our feelings in our world, hoping to change something about this other world that we’ve disappeared in. Sometimes, we even think about the “what ifs”. Finally, we are asked to accept the fates of these characters.
My brother started reading the Harry Potter series when he was in 7th grade. He asked me to read it too, so that we can talk about it but I didn’t want to. I thought it was overrated and that it was somewhat dumb. They were wizards and witches! Besides, I was too busy reading the Twilight Saga. This is one of the things that I regret; skipping Harry Potter and reading Twilight. But over the summer, I bought the first book of Harry Potter in a yard sale just because I wanted to see why everyone liked it. I didn’t know that my world would change.
We are introduced to almost every significant characters in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The main characters are: Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived; Ron Weasley, a red-headed pure-blood and Hermione Granger, a perfectionist muggle. They are Harry’s future best friends. There are also other characters, such as Hagrid, the giant; Albus Dumbledore, the nice headmaster of Hogwarts; Neville Longbottom, the bullied and often overlooked pure-blood; Draco Malfoy, not a future best friend; Severus Snape, the mysterious and not so nice professor, and of course, there’s Lord Voldemort. All of these characters are those who shed light on Harry’s characters. These characters, along with many others, are what captures a reader’s attention and they demand to be heard. There is something magical about the characters and the places of Harry Potter. As I read the series, I had to keep reminding myself that these people and places were just works of fiction; they were not real.
Falling in love with and developing feelings for these people was easy. Each character that J. K. Rowling creates, you feel something for them as you read along. Whether it’s respect, hatred, sympathy, love, just likeness, tolerance, or a weird combination of all. I felt sympathy for both Harry and Snape. I came to respect Hermione and Dumbledore the most. For some reason, I just liked Ron but loved his weird family. Neville was just Neville. I hated Draco but also respected him a little. He put some effort to make Harry miserable. Oddly, I respected Voldemort. He was a complex character and you can’t help but respect him. He tried to be good but he was just pure evil, compelled by greed and power. He had no humanity left in him at all. Again, even though these people weren’t real, I still had some type of feelings for them.
While reading, we sometimes scream out our frustrations and disappointments to our books. I am no different. I criticized some of the actions taken by our “heroes” and yelled out instructions on what they should do or where to go. Then, I started thinking about the “what ifs”. What if Neville was the Boy Who Lived instead of Harry? Or Hermione? She was a great candidate to be the main character. What if Dumbledore lived? What if Snape lived? What if Ron’s family wasn’t so weird? I still ask myself these questions and think about the world that could have been.
Finally we are asked to accept the fates that these characters had. Ron and Hermione, and Harry and Ginny get married in the future. Sirius Black’s death was like a meteor for me. I stopped reading for a few months afterwards. When Fred Weasley died, I had to rethink if I really wanted to finish reading the series or not. The deaths and not so satisfying endings for the series left me questioning the fates of many characters.
I read to escape my life, to relax, to think, to feel, to see the world from other perspectives, and to experience adventures or moments that I may never be able to do. Reading fictions gives me something to imagine. I am the character that I’m reading about. I can save the world, I can use magic or my own strengths, and I can be my own hero or the hero of millions. There are many reason why someone would like reading.
So, why do you like reading?